We all know spending time outside is proven to be beneficial for both your mental health and wellbeing.
But while not everybody is lucky enough to have a garden, households boasting a balcony can also reap the rewards.
Elin Harryson, in-house expert Swedish plant care app Planta, believes there are clear reasons to utilize your apartment’s outdoor space.
She told Newsweek: “For those that can’t access forests or parks all the time, you can still access the perks of nature by bringing plants into your space.
“In fact, adding houseplants to small areas like balconies is one of the best ways to maximize your space, because plants can help reduce noise pollution, improve air quality, and add privacy to otherwise open apartments, all while helping you customize and decorate your space.”
Here are some of the best balcony garden ideas, according to experts.
Add Greenery to Your Apartment Balcony Garden
There are a few key considerations that plant owners should be aware of when thinking of balcony garden ideas.
Because plants are typically in pots, it is important to keep them hydrated. Water plants in the morning to help prevent moisture from evaporating throughout the day, while also avoiding issues like fungal infections which can occur with evening watering schedules.
Additionally, when selecting plants, it is important each species works in your balcony’s light conditions to ensure your plants thrive.
Planta’s Elin Harryson believes if you are lucky enough to live in a place with seasons,” you can invest in a few bigger plants that are perennial and within your hardiness zone”
She added: “If you want your space to be low maintenance, or predict that you’re going to be away often, you can invest in drought tolerant plants like succulents to make sure your plants survive vacations.
The Importance of Drainage
Re-potting all balcony plants into large pots with drainage holes is an easy way to maintain your balcony foliage.
Harryson said: “This ensures that plants don’t become under watered or root-bound during their growing season.
“This is especially important if rain can reach your balcony, as larger, drainable pots help prevent plants from becoming waterlogged.
What to Plant in Your Balcony Garden
Matthew Brown, Sadolin & Sandtex Technical Consultant, suggests with smaller spaces, the use of “a distinctive bold shade, such as blues and oranges can enliven and energize a space,” and can make it appear larger.
He told Newsweek when thinking of balcony garden ideas: ” Don’t be afraid to use dark colors; in small spaces dark colors can create a cozy, intimate atmosphere.”The following types of plants grow well in pots and would make great additions to your garden.
Growing hydrangea in pots can be a clever option for people who have limited space and want a beautiful yet compact display of flowering plants.
Harryson said: “When hydrangea live outside, they typically like full sun, though exposure to direct light can dry out the soil quickly.
“As such, it’s best to position your hydrangea in a spot that receives sun in the morning, and shade in the afternoon, to help ensure they have the best of both worlds and avoid drying out.
“A top tip for keeping hydrangea hydrated is to fill the pot to the brim with water before letting it drain fully out of the bottom and into the plant saucer. Then, repeat this process once more to help your plant avoid feeling thirsty.”
These hardy shrubs (also referred to as small trees) come in many varieties and grow brilliantly in pots, thanks to their compact and upright stems.
Harryson said: “They are tolerant of intense sun while still faring well in shade, and can be surrounded with planted flowers to turn the space into a potted garden.
“These shrubs require little pruning, are one of the most resilient and versatile pot-able plants out there, making them perfect for balconies in even the coolest regions.
Harryson states hosta plants come in multiple varieties, and most work well in containers both alone and when spaciously nestled in with other plants.
She said: “Hostas are best planted in the early spring or autumn so that they have a chance to grow and settle before their growth slows in winter.
“As hostas grow horizontally, we recommend that you use a pot with less than three inches of space between the roots and the side of the pot, for your balcony display.
“This will give the roots space to grow, while allowing the leaves of the hosta fully spread out and flaunt their foliage.
Harryson suggests these “little stunners” make the perfect addition to any balcony garden.
She said: “Their green stems and blue or white flowers add a lovely balance of color and greenery to any outdoor space, big or small.
While agapanthus don’t thrive in winter, you can move their pots and cover them during cool seasons to protect from the change of season. Come spring and summer, they’ll produce flowers in June, July and August, especially when placed in a sunny spot.
“Although Agapanthus are drought-tolerant, you’ll still need to water your pots at least a couple of times a week through the summer, and keep on top of their fertilizing schedule to help them maintain their color and lush foliage. I
It’s also important to mention that Agapanthus actually like to become root-bound, and don’t like to get re-potted into big or oversized pots.
Below are some plants that provide privacy for those wanting a secluded space.
Star Jasmine is a vine plant with evergreen foliage that can be trained to grow across a specific space.
Harryson said: “These plants grow with even coverage and clusters of flowers that will not drop in the winter, making these plants the perfect addition to a balcony.
“Star Jasmine can grow four to eight inches a year, meaning that these plants offer both privacy, and minimal maintenance.
“Whether planted in the ground, pots, or planters, Star Jasmine will thrive with lots of sunlight and a little water.
Snake Plants are described as “easy to care for and drought-resistant”, by Harryson, meaning they are ranked second among Planta’s top plants of 2021.
She said: “While Snake Plants are often kept indoors, they can thrive outside, too. They can also often maintain their attractive look even after weeks of neglect, and grow up to six feet tall, which makes them excellent, dense privacy screens.
“Snake Plants can thrive in both shaded and sunny conditions alike, and come in a variety of colors (Star Green and Starlight are exceptionally striking), meaning you can find whatever look works best for your space.
Areca palms, also known as butterfly or bamboo palms, are a perfect plant for beginners looking to flex their green thumbs.
Harryson said: “These plants love light, and make the perfect addition to balconies that get full sunlight. Areca palms reach up to 6.5 feet tall and can be nearly as wide, though smaller versions of this plant are less bulky and can work equally as well as a divider, while still allowing sunlight to filter through.
“Keep in mind that Areca palms don’t thrive in cold weather, and if you live somewhere with seasons, they will need to spend winter indoors.
“Additionally, Areca palms are both non-toxic to pets and work overtime as air purifiers, so you can feel extra confident bringing these beauties home.
Decking Your Balcony Garden
Richard Searle, project manager at Kettler, believes it is worth considering ” multifunctional furniture” when thinking of balcony garden ideas.
He told Newsweek: “Modular furniture is extremely flexible as it can be prefigured to fit a wide range of spaces and occasions.
“Weatherproof storage boxes can be left outside throughout the seasons and provide a fantastic solution for protecting outdoor cushions and accessories from the elements.
“Footstools can also offer additional seating for guests, extra storage and can be used as a coffee table for drinks and nibbles where there isn’t room for a larger dining table.
“It’s important to remember that there’s no such thing as one size fits all when it comes to finding the ideal furniture and storage solution, but with a wide range of styles and materials now on the market, there is something to suit every taste, budget and requirement.”